I’m stepping on my soap box for this blog article. If you are easily offended, please stop reading now.
As it is banned books week, I thought I’d talk about the importance of reading banned books. Personally, I was very lucky to have had several teachers and professors in my educational past who forced me to read books that had been banned or challenged. Native Son, Go Tell It On The Mountain, Brown Girl, Brownstones, and The Awakening are just a few examples. There were many more, but for some reason, these are the books I’ve carted around the world with me.
Why should we read banned books? Banned books are provocative and challenging. Yikes! Why not just read something nice and easy? (Please note: There is NOTHING wrong with reading nice and easy.) The themes dealt with in banned books are anything but nice and easy. And that’s exactly why we should read them. Some of the themes of the books currently in the top 10 of banned books include: sexual violence, religion, same-sex marriage, gender identification, racial slurs. The list goes on and on.
Here’s the thing: Each and every theme used as an excuse to ban a book is part of everyday life. Sexual violence is a daily occurrence. In fact, a woman is raped every two minutes in America. Maybe if we start talking about this violence and how it’s wrong and not to be blamed on the victim, people would stop thinking it’s okay to sexually intimidate or sexually abuse another person.
Same-sex marriage, gender identification, LGBTQ rights… the list could go on. These ‘sensitive’ topics should be discussed, because they are part of life and not talking about them only makes people fearful. People are fearful of the unknown, after all.
I’ll get off my soapbox now, but I think I’ve made it clear why I believe we should read difficult books and discuss the uncomfortable issues they bring up. So, go ahead, grab a banned book and dive in.